C(live) S(taples) Lewis 1898–1963
(Also wrote under pseudonyms of Clive Hamilton, Nat Whilk, and N. W. Clerk) English novelist, essayist, critic, autobiographer, poet, and short story writer.
Lewis is considered one of the foremost Christian authors of the twentieth century. Indebted principally to the works of George MacDonald, G. K. Chesterton, and Charles Williams, and to ancient Norse myths, he is regarded as a formidable logician and Christian polemicist, a perceptive literary critic, and—most highly—as a writer of fantasy literature. Among the imaginative works for which he is best known are The Screwtape Letters (1942), the series of children's books collectively called The Chronicles of Narnia, and the science-fiction trilogy comprising Out of the Silent Planet (1938), Perelandra (1943), and That Hideous Strength (1945). The conflicts presented in Lewis's fiction evoke the cosmic struggle between good and evil, and evidence the Christian vision which informs his literary and critical works.
An acknowledged authority on medieval and Renaissance literature, Lewis taught at Oxford and Cambridge. A traditionalist in his approach to life and art, he opposed the modern movement in literary criticism toward biographical and psychological interpretation. Instead, Lewis practiced and propounded a theory of criticism which stresses the importance of the author's intent, rather than the reader's presuppositions and prejudices. In his Christian polemics, notably Mere Christianity (1952), The Abolition of Man (1943), and The World's Last Night and Other Essays (1960), Lewis's renowned wit and reason serve to defend the faith he embraced in 1931 and to attack the modern social/religious trend which equates change—no matter how foolish or destructive—with progress. Ever popular, Lewis's books continue to attract a growing readership and are the subject of increasing critical study.
(See also CLC, Vols. 1, 3, 6, 14; Children's Literature Review, Vol. 3; Contemporary Authors, Vols. 81-84; and Something about the Author, Vol. 13.)